After nightfall, Minnesota hip-hop group Atmosphere took the Coast stage. “Holy shit,” rapper Slug exclaimed upon seeing the massive crowd. Slug and his DJ, Ant, were accompanied live by guitar and keyboard. Together they crafted literate hip-hop songs that snapped and crackled without the benefit of choruses or rap clichés.
“Beautiful people of Chicago, put your hands up” Slug requested before launching into “Trying to Find a Balance.” Slug proved to be a deft rapper and an affable host, clad in a black cap, cargo shorts and a t-shirt that read “Stephen King Rules.” He was far-removed from the bombastic braggadocio of commercial rap, as Slug touched on subjects like taking the Greyhound bus and finding someone to grow old with.
“You’re a beautiful bunch of ugly motherfuckers,” Slug declared with a smile before launching into “God Loves Ugly.” Crowd participation was a constant; Slug instructed the crowd to hammer their fist on one song, then to make scissor fingers on “Puppets.” References to Illinois, Chicago and the 773 were liberally sprinkled throughout the lyrics. The keyboard and guitar helped fill out Atmosphere’s paranoia-soul sound, giving Slug a perfect foil for his introspective raps. “Do we have the right to be hostile?” he asked at one point, before lamenting “no wonder I’m in love with my therapist.” While anger and resentment were common themes, the music never became overtly aggressive. “I love you Chicago, take care of yourself,” Slug said as the band took their bows and left the stage.